A San Diego fitness break itinerary

Staying fit and exploring San Diego

Who says that staying fit always involves going to the gym? When you live in a city like San Diego, you can stay fit, naturally. Aside from the 70 miles of the Pacific coastline and near-perfect weather, San Diego can also be best described as a big city with small town vibes. I live in a neighborhood North of Balboa Park, called North Park.

My San Diego fitness break itinerary starts with in my neighborhood. I love to start my weekends with a brisk walk to one of my favorite neighborhood coffee shops, Café Madeleine, for a cup of coffee. When you visit, or live in a city like San Diego, it doesn’t matter which neighborhood you are at, there’s always a great local coffee shop that you can run to. Step Count: 939.

Now that I’ve got my coffee fill, my heart is ready to pump. I’ve never been big on going to the gym to work out, so I like keeping in shape by running and working out outdoors. The Downtown San Diego and Embarcadero neighborhood is the perfect place for working out. The San Diego Convention Center, home of San Diego Comic-Con, is where plenty of runners and fitness freaks unite. The grand staircase consists of 100 steps! I like to do short sprints every 50 steps and take my time heading down to catch my breath. Up the top of the stairs, you get a great view of San Diego Downtown. You almost forget you’re working out!

After doing this 10 times, I like to go for a run along the Embarcadero and take in the fresh ocean air. Alongside the embarcadero are sailboats, restaurants, eateries, you name it. One of the places you’ll ran past is an area called Seaport Village, which has about 45 one-of-a-kind shops. Stair count: 41, Step count: 5,287.

After sprinting stairs and running nonstop, it’s definitely time for a slower pace. At the other side of the Embarcadero, opposite of the Convention Center, is a neighborhood called Little Italy. On Saturdays, they have the Little Italy Mercato. I love going to the Little Italy Farmer’s Market because it has over 200 tents of farm fresh produce, pastured eggs, poultry, meat, fish, flowers and even local artisan food! It truly showcases San Diego’s local gems. Did you know San Diego is home to 6,687 farms? That’s more than any county in United States. Even the famous, Jason Mraz, has an avocado farm here. It’s hard not to stay fit when you’ve got easy access to fresh produce. Check out the spread I bought from Suzie’s Farms! You can spend a couple of hours here and not even realize you’ve walked so much. Step count: 4,173. 

Little Italy is not just known for the farmer’s market, but it’s also home to plenty of restaurants, shops and also art! Running around town has got me so hungry and I think it’s time to mangia! One of my favorite restaurants in Little Italy is Café Gratitude, and it’s just around the corner from the farmer’s market. The food here is not only delicious but it is oh so healthy! The menu is 100 percent plant-based and organic. Menu items are also titled as word affirmations. I ordered the “humble”—which is red lentil dal, spinach, roasted garnet yams, coconut mint chutney and spicy tomato jam! YUM! So you have to tell the server “I am humble,” in which he’ll reply, “you are humble” to confirm your order. I drove back home after lunch to drop off my basket of farm fresh produce.

After meals, I usually like to go for walks. Just about a mile from Little Italy is the iconic Balboa Park. Balboa Park is larger than Central Park, it has 17 museums which makes it the largest museum complex west of the Mississippi, and it’s also home to the World-Famous San Diego Zoo! You can go to Balboa Park for a walk or run any time of day because it’s always filled with plenty of people and things to do. I did start for a brisk walk around the park, but that soon turned into a run. There’s many trails to run at the park, but my favorite trail is running around the middle of the museums, around the fountains, botanical garden and the reflection pond.

If you want to switch it up and get some stairs in, the California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man is 125 steps to get to the top. At the top is an epic 360-degree view of San Diego. You can easily spend 3-5 hours or all day at Balboa Park. I highly recommend also visiting the Spreckels Organ Pavilion (there’s plenty of pews to use for creative workouts) and the Japanese Friendship Garden. Stair count: 8, Step count: 6,134. 

I found out my friends are in town visiting from Los Angeles and they are out walking around Old Town. Old Town is a neighborhood about 2 miles from Balboa Park, and it’s filled with Mexican restaurants, attractions, and shops. I met up with my friends and we walked around the little shops. While they took their time shopping, I decided to separate from them and went for a run up Presidio Park instead. Presidio Park is just uphill from Old Town. I ran back down after an hour to meet up with my friends and we sat in front of the porch of America’s most haunted house, Whaley House. It’s kind of in the middle of everything, so it was a great place to let your heart rate slow down and people watch at the same time.

After running around all day, I thought it was only appropriate to celebrate all the stairs and steps accomplished. I took my friends to my favorite restaurant in Old Town, Café Coyote, for a skinny margarita! Just by being outdoors and enjoying what San Diego offers, it’s almost a surprise to see your total step count at the end of the day. Cheers! Step count: 4,176.

Throughout the day, I wore a Fitbit Charge 2 to track my activity and for my San Diego fitness break day, I racked up about 23,700 steps. 

What are your favorite ways to stay active in your neighborhood?

This blog was written by a Hotwire employee. Jigger Abendano is a big foodie, nerd, and blogger at ExperienceSD.com. Working in the hospitality industry, he loves to share unique ways to Experience San Diego, whether you’re a local or visitor. His mission is to live life slightly adventurously by trying something at least once, making friends with strangers and traveling the world! When he’s not traveling, you can find Jigger in the kitchen cooking up all kinds of cuisines or playing with his two dogs, Danger and Hero.

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